Hot Topics in Food Microbiology On-site Conference

Hot Topics in Food Microbiology On-site Conference

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What’s hot in food microbiology? With food poisoning and spoilage costing the food industry a considerable amount each year, it is paramount for businesses to stay on top of current and emerging issues. The popular, annual ‘Hot Topics in Food Microbiology’ on-site conference is a unique and effective way to achieve this.

Industry experts will cover an assortment of topical subjects of importance and interest in the world of food microbiology and safety, including:

  • Microbiology under the microscope – New trends, tools, and challenges
  • Food safety challenges for plant-based ingredients
  • The use of microbial profiling in the food industry
  • The diversity of Campylobacter spp. throughout the poultry processing plant
  • Survival mechanisms of Bacillus in food production environments
  • Methods to detect viable pathogens in food, with a particular focus on bacteriophage-based approaches
  • Vertical farming

Key benefits of attending

The event will put you ahead of the curve through cutting-edge content and many other opportunities and benefits.

There will be opportunities for discussion with speakers and food industry colleagues on a wide range of microbiological matters, including specific issues affecting you.

Alongside the excellent presentations from renowned experts in the field, the conference is uniquely effective for networking, knowledge sharing and keeping in touch with those who can support you.

Who should attend?

This is a must attend conference for food and beverage industry microbiologists, technical managers, food manufacturers, quality assurance personnel, food safety managers, buyers etc.

Event Director

Fiona Cawkell


Wednesday 18 October

Time Presentation
08:45 Registration and arrival refreshments
09:10 Welcome and Chairman’s introduction
Greg Jones, Campden BRI
09:25 Survival mechanisms of Bacillus in food production environments
Sakshi Lamba, Uni College Dublin
10:05 Methods to detect viable pathogens in food, with a particular focus on bacteriophage-based approaches
Prof. Irene R. Grant, Queens University, Belfast
The ability to rapidly detect viable pathogens in food is important for public health and food safety reasons. Culture-based detection methods, the traditional means of demonstrating microbial viability, tend to be laborious, time consuming and slow to provide results. Several culture-independent methods to detect viable pathogens have been developed in recent years, including both nucleic acid–based (PCR combined with use of cell viability dyes, or reverse-transcriptase PCR) and phage-based (phage amplification assay, phagomagnetic separation-qPCR, immunoassay or enzymatic assays) Some of these newer methods, particularly phage-based methods, show promise in terms of speed, sensitivity of detection and cost compared with culture for food testing. An overview of these new approaches and their food testing applications will be provided.
10:45 Refreshment break and an opportunity to view the exhibits
11:05 New and improved natural antimicrobials for plant-based foods
Bert de Vegt, Kerry Foods
In this presentation you will learn about what makes strong building blocks for clean label antimicrobial success, how to accelerate innovation in this space to protect and extend shelf life in food and beverages.
11:45 Hot News! an update on our sponsors products
12:30 Lunch and an opportunity to view the exhibits
13:20 The use of microbial profiling in the food industry
Jack Alderton, Campden BRI
This presentation provides an overview of an advanced microbial profiling technique utilizing Next-Generation Sequencing. The focus will be on bacterial profiling through 16S rRNA metabarcoding, which provides taxonomic insights and an understanding of microbial diversity in various samples. Industry-relevant case studies will be showcased, and a preview of Jack's ongoing PhD research. The presentaion will also assess the strengths and limitations of this methodology and explore its future potential in industry applications.
14:00 Food safety microbiology – same old pathogens, different vehicles, new analytics
Dr. John Donaghy, Nestlé
While we occasionally hear of an emerging food pathogen, the biggest challenge is often the appearance of the ‘old enemies’ in new food vehicles. The presentation will highlight the findings of some ‘old’ bacterial and viral adversaries in unexpected food sources, including the food safety and quality challenges posed by plant-based foods.
The presentation will also comment on the emergence of Next Generation Sequencing, including Whole Genome Sequencing and metagenomics, tools that bring unprecedented precision for pathogen source tracking and microbial ecology respectively. The role and implications of their application in food safety management will be discussed.
14:40 Refreshment break and an opportunity to view the exhibits
14:55 The diversity of Campylobacter spp. in poultry production
Dr. Lisa Williams, Hartpury University
Campylobacter and poultry, predominantly chickens, have a long association with each other. Despite extensive control measure both on farm and during processing, Campylobacter is still a big issue for the poultry industry. The diversity of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses during processing may lead to isolates that are able to survive abattoir processes. This has important implications for public health and adds a further layer to the complexity of the epidemiology of campylobacteriosis. Diversity within Campylobacter populations produces genotypes that adapt to tolerate the processing environment, and these may be capable of causing human disease. Understanding more about the genotypes that survive the processing will have important implications for public health.
15:20 Microbial dynamics in vertical farming: Unveiling contamination routes, ensuring food safety, and tackling spoilage
Annette Sansom, Campden BRI
Vertical farming has gained significant traction as an innovative and sustainable approach to food production. This presentation explores how microbial populations influence the success of vertical farming systems, investigates the various paths through which contamination can occur, and emphasizes the critical importance of food safety and spoilage prevention.
16:00 Q&A and Chairman’s closing comments


Greg Jones, Campden BRI

Greg started at Campden BRI in 2006 and has had a broad range of experience and influence, primarily across providing microbiology support to clients and leading research projects. Greg’s PhD was within the field of Molecular Microbiology and he also has a BSc(Hons) in Biotechnology.

Jack Alderton, Campden BRI

Jack joined Campden BRI in 2019 as a molecular biology technician for the microbiology safety and spoilage team after completing a BSc in cellular and molecular medicine from the University of Bristol and a Masters’ in E. coli infection mechanisms from Cardiff University.

Jack is currently working in the Emerging Microbiology Group as one of our microbiologists, exploring various new and exciting food and drink topics. His primary focus is on next-generation sequencing and its applications within the industry, aiming to identify innovative ways to benefit Campden BRI members. In parallel with his work, Jack is conducting a PhD at the University of Nottingham. His research uses 16S rRNA metabarcoding to identify key and time-critical bacterial populations throughout the production of beef-based products.

Annette Sansom, Campden BRI

Annette has a wealth of knowledge and experience from working at Campden BRI since 1998, always within Microbiology.

Annette’s food and drink industry interests are: microbiology including bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa; food safety; food spoilage; fresh produce microbiology including vertical farming and methods to describe microbial populations.

Bert de Vegt, Kerry Foods

Bert de Vegt is Global Vice President and General Manager for the Food Protection & Preservation business at Kerry, having joined in 2021. Prior to Kerry, Bert was Managing Director at Micreos Food Safety, a Dutch Biotechnology company. Bert’s leadership of Micreos built on over twenty years of experience at Cobion/Purac in Food Safety and Biotechnology holding roles of increasing responsibility across the Netherlands, North America and Brazil since in 1995. In his career, Bert enjoys being in the Food Preservation business, being on the crossroads of innovation, business development, marketing and sales.

Bert has a Masters in Food Science from Wageningen University and an MBA from Nyenrode Business University.

Prof. Irene R. Grant, Queens University, Belfast

Prof. Irene R. Grant is a graduate in Food Science (BSc) and Food Microbiology (PhD) from Queen’s University Belfast. Much of her research since has been related to animal health-food safety and zoonotic foodborne pathogens. She started working on Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in 1993, and for many years has been developing improved methods to demonstrate the presence and viability of this particularly slow-growing bacterium in milk and dairy products.

Irene is currently Professor of Microbiology and Food Safety within the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, and also Director of a spin-out company, Rapid-Myco Technologies Limited, that is seeking to commercialise a novel phage-based method to detect viable mycobacterial pathogens.

Dr. Lisa Williams, Hartpury University

Lisa Williams is a Senior Lecturer in Animal science, with a specialism in zoonotic diseases in animals. She obtained a BSc in Food, Nutrition and Consumer Protection from Bath Spa University College (2001), a MSc in Meat Science and Technology (2003) and a PhD in Microbiology (2009) from the University of Bristol. Prior to her PhD, she worked for the Health Protection Agency. Post PhD, Lisa undertook Postdoctoral positions at the University of Bristol (2009-2015) and Swansea University (2015-2020) before taking a lectureship at Hartpury University in 2020.

Lisa's research focuses on the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter species. She is interested in host-pathogen interactions including the immune response, interventions particularly dietary additives as a method of control, extra-intestinal spread and whether or not Campylobacter is a commensal or pathogen of broiler chickens. Lisa also has an interest in gut health of chickens and other animals including the microbiota as well as any microbial animal disease. In addition, Lisa has supervised many Undergraduate, Master's and PhD students’ projects to completion. Currently, Lisa is supervising 3 PhD students, 2 of whom are funded by industry.

Dr. John Donaghy, Nestlé, Switzerland

Head of Food Safety, Nestlé, Switzerland.

Responsibilities include Global Operational aspects of HACCP, food safety microbiology, industrial hygiene, prerequisite programmes and allergen management. Leads a global team of food safety experts, overseeing implementation of key Nestlé Food Safety and Quality standards, at Market and factory level.

Previously worked as Senior Food Safety Microbiologist in Nestlé R&D, represents Nestlé on International Commission on Microbiological Specifications of Food (ICMSF), other Codex Observer groups and several food safety advisory stakeholder groups.

Prior to joining Nestlé, worked as Project Leader in food safety microbiology at Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), N. Ireland, on projects funded by National Government, Food Industry and European Union. Previously, worked a Head of Government Scientific Services Laboratory responsible for microbiological analytics.

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